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Sports columnist Bill Simmons, writing for ESPN.com, explains the requisite circumstances for the Ewing Theory to apply:
  1. A star athlete receives an inordinate amount of media attention and fan interest, and yet their teams never win anything substantial with them (other than maybe some early-round playoff series).
  2. That same athlete leaves their team (either by injury, trade, graduation, free agency or retirement) -- and both the media and fans immediately write off the team for the following season.
When those elements collide, you have the Ewing Theory.
Well, you don't really have a theory there, just some prerequisites. What happens is that once the star athlete says so long, and the team is supposedly relegated to loser status, the team instead goes out and kicks some serious backside. That's the theory.

Enter Patrick Ewing, who is Simmons' prime example of the theory bearing his name in action.

From 1985 to 1999, Ewing was the core of the New York Knicks basketball team, appearing in the All-Star game pretty much every year and racking up all sorts of points, rebounds, assists, and blocks. But no titles. In the Eastern conference finals of the 1999 NBA playoffs, Ewing injured his Achilles tendon, leaving the Knicks without a center to play against the Indiana Pacers' Rik Smits. The Knicks won anyway and went on to lose in the NBA finals to the San Antonio Spurs.


As a devoted Seattle Mariners fan, when I first read about this I thought it should've been named the Randy Johnson, Ken Griffey Jr. and/or Alex Rodriguez Theory. See, the Mariners lost these three marquee players over three consecutive seasons, but got better each year. In 2001, after losing perhaps baseball's best position player in Alex Rodriguez, the M's won 116 games, an American League record; yet last I checked Simmons didn't mention the Ewing Theory potential in Seattle. Sports writers are all so east coast centric.

Next nominee for the Ewing Theory: Michael Jordan's Washington Wizards. You just wait.

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